Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: A Second-Gen Android Tablet

The iPad 2 enjoys the benefit of being one generation ahead of everyone else. But what happens when the competition catches up? Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the first second-gen Android-based tablet. Can it hold its own against the iPad 2 in our testing?

Do you want to win a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 of your own? How about an Eee Pad Transformer, an Acer Iconia Tab A500, or a Lenovo IdeaPad K1? We're giving away all of those Nvidia Tegra 2-powered tablets and more (special thanks to the TegraZone team for providing the prizes)!

Read through our Eee Pad Transformer review and, on the last page, follow the link to fill out our entry form on SurveyGizmo. Good luck, Tom's Hardware readers!

Successful products are one part innovation and one part timing. Apple got both halves of the recipe just right with its iPad. Introduced in April 2010, the original iPad was a refreshing take on mobile computing that stripped away the familiar keyboard and incorporated a power-friendly hardware architecture. While the iPad wasn’t particularly slick or slim (compared to today's standards, at least), it benefited from being the first tablet. That's a massive advantage, especially when you take into consideration Apple's understanding that it needed huge developer support right out of the gate. And when tablet-curious buyers ask if a new contender is an iPad 2-killer, then it's clear which company is setting the standard. 

Although Google's Android-based tablets are increasingly garnering accolades, it's hard to go head-to-head against Apple while playing a game of catch-up. The first Honeycomb-based tablet (Motorola's Xoom) debuted in early February 2011. That was almost a year after the iPad. Fortunately, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 narrows the timetable significantly. It's the first second-generation Android-based tablet, and it follows Apple's second-gen offering by just a few months.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Tablets released prior to the Xoom didn't really compete in a meaningful way against Apple's solution. All of them, including Samsung's Galaxy Tab, used Gingerbread (Android 2.3), which Google intended for use on smartphones. Honeycomb (Android 3.0) is a completely different beast because it was created with tablets in mind.

But while Google offers a true tablet experience with its Android 3.0 operating system, it doesn't make its own tablets. Instead, it relies on hardware vendors that use its software on their own interpretations of what a tablet should be. And up until now, that hardware has come across as less refined than what Apple offers. That’s not completely fair, though. Tablets like the Xoom, Iconia A500, and Eee Pad Transformer represent first-generation Android-based tablets, which is why they're more accurately compared to the original iPad.

Plenty of time has passed, though, and the hardware is finally catching up to the software. Samsung has the first second-generation Honeycomb-based tablet in its Galaxy Tab 10.1, and it's one of the best mobile devices we've seen thus far (and that's even compared to the iPad 2). What makes this implementation different? How did Samsung turn thing around? We're putting this tablet through our usual gauntlet of poking and prodding, bringing you the answers.

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  • killerclick
    No surprises here, iPad 2 is still on top, being the engineering masterpiece that it is. Take a look at side-by-side comparisons of iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 on YouTube and you'll see how much smoother animations and video recording are on the iPad 2.
  • Martell77
    I'm going to be in the market to buy about 150 tablets soon and from this article it appears that the ASUS 3.2 is the best all around for price/performance/recharge. While it doesn't win alot, it appears to be a consistant performer and has a relativly short recharge time.

    Or am I missing something here?
  • dthx
    The reason why Samsung doesn't want to lower it's price is easy to understand: there are many (stupid) persons who are convinced that the iPad is superior to any other tablet just because it's priced higher... Samsung wants to make sure they capture that part of the market.
    But the author is right: if there is one reason Apple should sue Samsung, it's for copying the price structure of the iPad!
  • Haserath
    Samsung Galaxy Tab needs a split keyboard feature in portrait mode; it isn't comfortable enough to have to stretch to hit the virtual keys.

    The 10.1 is still too slow for certain browsing. Flash is good as long as you don't want to rewind or fast forward through it. It sometimes slows down when I try typing also.

    Since Apple produces both hardware and software, they can optimize their OS for the exact hardware they put out.

    After trying the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, I would say it's just a little too immature still. A good year or two and tablets will be perfect for browsing, gaming, and some other tasks while also being lightweight and easy to use even compared to laptops.
  • Hmmm, many talk about iPad dominance but don't know all the facts. Just looking at a device in the store doesn't cut it folks. Android tablets are going to start cutting into market share, like it or not. For an IT person or true techie, most would choose an Android tablet. 4 core coming soon and they are going to rock the scene. Example: my Acer Iconia costs quite a bit less than iPad2.
    -Full USB port for mouse, keyboard, portable hard disks/thumb drives, cameras
    -Overclocked and stable dual core CPU @ 1.504 Ghz (big change in performance)
    -Customizable and open operating system (and it's going to get better with ICS)
    -Honeycomb 3.2
    -Netflix and Hulu working
    -Mount drives from Linux, Windows, and OSX
    -Websites with Flash that look the same as on a PC browser (now theres a concept)
    -Wide screen 16:9
    -5MP rear camera + front facing camera.
    -HDMI out
    -Charges back up in 1hr
  • dennisburke
    Price, proprietary cable management, and lack of expandable storage all lead me to want to wait to see what happens after Windows 8 becomes available.
  • iceman1992
    PowerVR SGX545MP2 (dual-core)

    i think it's supposed to be SGX543MP2?
  • tacoslave
    call me when Kal-el comes out
  • damric
    I'll be getting this for $199 with my Sprint upgrade :D
  • thrasher32
    Wake me up when someone does something innovative.
  • superbeast406
    While the iPad wasn’t particularly slick or slim (compared to today's standards, at least), it benefited from being the first tablet.

    The iPad wasn't the first tablet. They had been around for years before the iPad. Depending on what you're using for the definition of a tablet you could even say they were made as far back as in the 80's. We'll just say 2001 for functionality sake. iPad just crossed a tablet with the useful qaulities and good looks of an iPhone and marketed it right. I thought these articles were supposed to be written by techies? Not even gonna read the rest now.
  • The comment about multitasking is dead wrong on this review.

    First, it states that Android does no multitasking, that's simply wrong. What Android doesn't allow is to have multiple apps showing at the same time on the screen, you can have an app doing some long job while you work on another, if that's not multitasking I don't know what is.

    Second, one paragraph later it tells the Galaxy task killer doesn't remove the thumbnail from the "multitasking switcher" (didn't the reviewer just said Android does no multitasking?). That switch is really an "app history" switcher rather than a multitask switcher, because even if the app is no longer in memory Android will reopen it for you, so no reason for Touchwiz task killer to remove the thumbnail from it.

    It is a good review, but I wish the reviewer had done his research on some topics like this one before alienating readers with wrong information.
  • the fong
    The underlying issue with anyone knocking Apple off its throne is the 3rd party developer base and insane customer support Apple has. Until Android improves its model for the app store, they are never going to be a real contender against Apple in the general consumer market. Oh sure, tech heads and the like love android (myself among them), but Apple is shinier, simpler, with more apps, and more support, and the impressionable masses care little for native flash support as opposed to getting the latest angry birds update first.
  • sundragon
  • in_the_loop
    Totally misleading headline.
    This is by no way a "second generation" android tablet.
    It still has the Tegra 2 and the specs are identical to the other big names (Acer, Asus and the likes) and the performance is the same!

    No, the first "second gen" android tablet will probably be when the Asus transformer 2 is released.
    Or maybe ZTE will beat them all with the first Tegra 3 based (quad-core)tablet:
  • invlem
    after using an android device for a while I have to say the versatility is amazing compared to the iPad.

    I can browse my local Lan network with ease, copy files across the network, bridge any device to anything else (beam a youtube video from my 3g or wifi, via wifi, to my tv, etc)

    all feature which I can get for free from the market place.

    Not to mention standard USB and SD card support

    I'll admit the iPad has a nice interface and in general is a good tablet, but apple's death grip on what the developers are allowed to publish crushes the iPads capabilities... It could do so much more, and that's where the android market shines.
  • maltocro
    My god, those specs are both in inches and in decimals?! Am I missing somthing (I am from Europe.)
  • husker
    maltocroMy god, those specs are both in inches and in decimals?! Am I missing somthing (I am from Europe.)

    Here is what you are missing. All of these are the same thing:

    One tenth of an inch
    1/10 inch
    0.1 inch

    Is that really so hard to believe?
  • WyomingKnott
    oogle and its hardware partners all seem focused on video content, based on the 16:10 displays on all of the competing tablets in the chart above. As a result, you'll feel compelled to hold the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in landscape mode.

    I always hold my 16:10 (why not 8:5?) eeePad Transformer in portrait mode. What's so hard about it? Or am I just weird?
  • I have one, and the GALAXY tab having a different charger than my GALAXY S2 is unforgivable.
  • nikorr
    Is Samsung's Second-Gen Galaxy A Winner? Yes it is.
  • kartu
    Call me conspirationalist, but why did you guys desaturate the picture?
  • My Samsung Galaxy 10.1 takes about 24 hours to charge from 0% to 100% while using the AC adapter. And it runs down to 0% in about a day and a half when I am not even using it AT ALL. I bitterly regret being persuaded by my IT Support guy that this was a device worth's useless if you have to plug it in to charge every time you put it down....
  • dauntekong
    ASUS TF700 dominates both Samsung 10.1 and iPad 2 on performance. As for sales wise no, Its costly for such performance. I spent about 800 on my ASUS TF700 64GB with docking keyboard... As I look back to all the other tablets.... I'm glad I got my ASUS TF700 =)